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How to evaluate media materials

Media materials may include photographs, documentary films, TV and radio broadcasts, even Twitter and Instagram posts.

Authority/authorship

  • Who created the work (e.g. broadcaster, publisher, government)?
  • Can you locate the original source of the image? Tools such as Google Reverse Image Finder can help you locate the source of an image.

Currency/timeliness

  • How current is the information and coverage?
  • Can the same information or images be found through other reputable sources or sites for confirmation?

Coverage/relevance

  • Has there been sufficient time for accurate analysis and understanding of the topic? News reports may require time for follow-up; consider the depth of information when searching for substantive sources.

Purpose/audience

  • For what purpose was the material created (e.g. entertainment, educational, promotional, commercial, professional)? Consider where and how the image is being displayed and why.

Accuracy/documentation

  • Is the image staged, re-enacted, or authentic? Are the news reports genuine or are they satirical?
  • How does that impact the transmission of information?

Objectivity/thoroughness

  • Is the information presented in an objective manner or is it biased? Edited or altered photographs and films are examples of how media can transmit selective information.
  • Determine the intent of the information and whether it represents a particular or biased opinion. Images and sounds may be altered or manipulated; practices such as voice-over narration, framing, editing, and lighting can be used to shape a particular point of view.
  • Compare a cross-section of different media sources to help determine accuracy.
  • Are different points of view offered? Are conclusions supported by evidence?
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page last updated on: Wednesday 22 November 2017
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